[MA-SOC] Fansubbers are evil! EEEEVVVVVIIIIILLLLL!

Danny Minhas sejiro at yahoo.com
Sun Nov 25 09:44:09 EST 2007


Read this it's a great reply.  I actually agree with most of what is said here.

Ralph Young <ralphyoung at optonline.net> wrote: Our recent debates are echoed by the industry, particularly Arthur Smith of GBH Entertainment:


With all due respect, I'm tired of the hypocrisy inherent in this issue.  Anime is an industry built solidly on a foundation of illegal copyright infringement.  From the fan doujinshi that gave CLAMP and Ken Akamatsu their starts, to the Daicon animation that launched Gainax, to Monkey Punch appropriating the character of Lupin for his own purposes, to the licensed American distributors who started out as fansubbers themselves (most of them did, you know).  While I won't go so far as to say that *nobody* has completely clean hands, copyright infringement has been the rule, not the exception, at every level of the quote industry unquote on both sides of the Pacific.

What Arthur Smith, and most of the "Shame on You for Watching Fansubs" faction consistently fail to mention is that the American market that fansubs are supposedly killing was created by fansubs in the first place.  Without fansubs, nobody over here would have heard of this crap in the first place.  Legit distributors spent decades trying and failing to create a market for anime in America.  With one or two exceptions like Speed Racer and Robotech, they failed miserably.  Foreign popular entertainment just didn't fly with the masses; between the costs associated with international negotiation and the costs of distributing in "legitimate" channels, it was simply too expensive to market enough material to develop a loyal fanbase.  

The isolated attempts at legitimate marketing created too few sparks, too far apart, to actually light a fire.  Left to those devices, a few American consumers in the 70s and 80s might see something like "Warriors of the Wind" (the hacked up but entirely legal re-edit of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind that got an extremely limited theatrical release here in the 1980s) once or twice in their life and consider them intriguing oddities, but almost none of them considered it a sufficient basis for an actual hobby of consumerism.  

With perhaps one exception -- the first fansubbers.

They saw stuff like Warriors of the Wind and the then-untranslated release of Akira and wanted more of it, but there were no channels to provide it to them.  So they made their own.  They devoted millions of man-hours of labor translating, subtitling, and distributing these materials, they engaged in grass-roots marketing on an incredible scale.  And you know what?  Most of that effort went entirely uncompensated.   They saw the potential, they put in the blood and sweat, and they created the market, motivated almost entirely by a love of the subject matter and a desire to share it with others.  

Then legitmate businessmen like Arthur Smith showed up and said "Hey, you've done what we couldn't -- built up a solid niche market of loyal consumers.  Well, we're going to take them away from you now.  No, we're not going to pay you anything, or give you any credit, or even thank you.  In fact, we are publically going to call you thieves and privately threaten you with litigation.  We will send our kids to college by exploiting your hard work, and when we die we will ascend unblemished to Businessman Heaven while you starve to death and burn forever in Fanboy Hell, watching nothing but commercially edited dubs of Warriors of the Wind and Cardcaptors for all eternity."

Screw that noise.

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